The question of how women can overcome gender bias within cultures and succeed in their own right is emerging as a talking point at this year's Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India. The focus this year is women, who still lag behind men when it comes to starting businesses and securing funding for them.
"In some traditional cultures like in Asia, people expect women to be just at home and not expressing themselves as they deserve to be," said Mandy Nguyen, who works for Startup Vietnam Foundation, a group that supports entrepreneurs.
Nguyen, who traveled from Vietnam for the conference, also said, "For us, this focus, it makes people understand more about the potentials and capabilities of women."
Many attendees at this eighth annual conference have come from around the world to talk up their businesses and projects. Others, like Safietou Kane, a Mauritanian who created a rice distribution business, are looking for something new.
"I'm hoping to have more contacts with strong entrepreneur women," she said. "And get new ideas from other people, and just network."
Embraced by Trump administration
Started by the Obama administration in 2010, the global summit initially aimed to promote entrepreneurship as an antidote to extremism worldwide. The summit was embraced by the Trump administration, which this year partnered with the Indian government to put on the three-day event.
More than half of the 1,500 attendees this year are women. Ten countries, including Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, sent only female delegates.
Ivanka Trump, special adviser to and daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week addressed the gathering, which is under heavy security. They both promoted their countries' business prowess while reaffirming the ties between the two nations. They also highlighted the accomplishments of women, but noted that more progress needs to be made.
"And I especially want to congratulate the women entrepreneurs here with us today," said Trump. "This year's summit is focused on a theme that is key to our future: Women first, prosperity for all."
Among the female entrepreneurs attending the conference is Neetika Maheshwari, who runs a business in northern California's technology corridor known as Silicon Valley, helping startups — particularly those from India — enter the U.S. market. While Maheshwari's clientele is mostly male, she says she is seeing a shift.
"The last couple years I've seen a big growth in female entrepreneurs, especially in the tech industry and startups," Maheshwari said. "It's a huge change."
Participants at this year's summit in Hyderabad represent four industry sectors: energy and infrastructure, health care and life sciences, financial technology and digital economy, and media and entertainment.
The summit ends Thursday.